The world’s largest underwater restaurant, which can seat up to 100 guests, is set to open next April on the coast of Båly, a small town on Norway’s southernmost coastline. A massive structure, resembling a sea creature, the restaurant will be the first underwater restaurant in Europe.
“We'll attract tourists from all over the world. That is our goal. I hope and believe that this will be the start of a new age for the travel industry," says Gaute Ubostad, one of the project heads.
The building was constructed over the course of six months on a barge near Båly. Last July, Snøhetta, an international architecture and interior design firm based in Oslo, which created the restaurant, sank the building 16 feet underwater, securing it to the ocean floor. The firm is now working on the interior design details.
The restaurant will be mostly submerged; however, guests must access the building by land and descend a staircase to reach the underwater dining rooms. The eatery, named appropriately Under, will specialize in fresh seafood. Chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen will source fresh, local food, including mushrooms, berries, seabirds, and sheep from nearby towns. Pedersen was previously the head chef at the highly-regarded gourmet restaurant Måltid in Kristiansand city center.
The building, which was built in concrete, is intended to also function as a marine research facility and its exterior walls will eventually become a mussel reef. If you are interested in dining at Under, you’ll want to make a reservation soon. The restaurant will limit bookings through the summer. For a spectacular albeit somewhat frightening experience, you may want to reserve a table when the weather is not particularly sunny.
"I think the most exciting experience will be visiting the restaurant during rough weather," Rune Grasdal, one of the architects of the building, told CNN. "It will be fantastic to see the sea surface broken up by the big waves and the rain, making for a very dramatic view -- although you will still feel safe and relaxed inside the restaurant."
Guests can also enjoy views of the marine life, including a variety of fish species such as cod, lip fishes, lobsters, seals and dogfish. Lighting, sound and smell will be used to draw plankton or cod to the area. "One of our main criteria is that our guests will get to experience something unique in the sea," Ubostad says.
For non-locals, reaching the restaurant may be an adventure. The closest airport, Kristiansand, is an hour away, however, there is expected to be boat service soon. The owners hope to improve Southern Norway's position as a tourist destination and to enhance the country’s overall appeal.